Craniosynostosis | Testing and Diagnosis

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How is craniosynostosis diagnosed?

Many children with craniosynostosis have visible symptoms — such as a misshapen or asymmetrical head — at birth. Other times, a child’s craniosynostosis is diagnosed during a routine physical examination. 

Your clinician may diagnose craniosynostosis based on his or her symptoms along with a detailed patient history and a full exam that includes a careful assessment of the shape of the skull.

In rare cases, craniosynostosis may be diagnosed before birth by a prenatal ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

What tests will my child need?

To diagnose craniosynostosis, often no additional tests are needed other than assessment by an expert. Your child’s clinician may also use one or more of the following tests:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scans— CT scans use x-ray equipment and powerful computers to create detailed images of the head and brain, including skull sutures and bones. This is the main test used for craniosynostosis.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)— MRI uses a combination of electromagnets and radio waves to take detailed images of the brain.

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